A Crash.net feature in which Bridgestone's Tom Tremayne interviews a MotoGP rider at each of the remaining 2009 rounds. At Brno, it's Mika Kallio...
Having been parachuted into the factory Ducati Team for three races from this weekend's Czech Republic Grand Prix onwards, Mika Kallio talks about the move, the pressure of replacing Casey Stoner, and the forthcoming Indianapolis Grand Prix which does not top his list of favourites.
On his surprise move to the Ducati Team, the MotoGP rookie is pragmatic. “Actually I think not really a lot has changed. I know the bike and everything is very similar. Ok the team is different but I don't think about this so much. For me there was not really anything strange moving into the Ducati Team. Yes it's Casey's bike, but that's it.
“Of course it's a big thing for me. It's the first year for me in MotoGP and to arrive at the factory team is really really a big thing, and of course I'm proud to be here and that we had enough pace for me to replace Casey.”
And the pressure? “Maybe only a little bit, but of course from outside everyone is feeling and pushing that I need to make a result this weekend and they give more pressure. But normally my style is that I don't think about this so much. Everyone else is thinking like this but I just need to make my job. Always when I go to the track I give all that I can give and then see what the result is, but so far everything is going really well.”
Kallio has taken a best race finish of eighth so far in his rookie MotoGP season with the satellite Pramac Ducati squad, but been fighting for a top six place on several occasions. The Finn now wants a top five from his factory rides.
“I think and I hope that in the next three races we can have really good results, for me and also for the whole team! This season I've had some little problems or small mistakes and in the end we couldn't reach the results but with Pramac Racing there was the chance to have position five or six or something like this. With the Ducati Team I hope that now we can have a little bit more luck, and for sure with a little bit more luck we can be somewhere in the top five. That's my goal.”
After Brno comes Indianapolis, a circuit Kallio visited as a 250cc rider last year, although the race itself was cancelled due to bad weather. Kallio doesn't mind the circuit layout, but the changing grip levels are a concern.
“Last year we had a very difficult weekend in Indianapolis and maybe that's why I don't like so much the track. There were a couple of crashes; the safety there is not so bad and the corners and everything are more or less ok, but then there is the surface.